Editorial Article by Jim Lantern
30 September 2016
Suicides by Train in Norman Oklahoma
When I moved to Norman, May 2008, I lived in an apartments complex next to tracks at Brooks. The use of the train horn was excessive, more than what the law requires. I made inquiries, and while doing so there was a death. Norman Transcript informed me they try to avoid referring to those deaths by train as suicide when they are suicides, so as not to give any other suicidal people the idea of death by train. Norman’s dirty little secret.
It happens along that stretch of track near OU because most of the suicides are-were OU students I was told. I hated college, when I attended back in 1975 at age 18-19, but not enough to kill myself. There was much peer pressure to stay with it, but I chose an apprenticeship route instead. There’s great appeal to getting paid while learning instead of building up college debt.
I believe college is stressful for some students, especially with rising debt. Add to that peer pressure from family and friends. The student could end up getting a failing grade and then end up choosing suicide. Could be a lack of sleep, and other physical conditions, lead to the bad decision, instead of trying to fix the problem or simply walking away from it to try a different route to reach a goal. In my case, I felt like I was being ripped off by the college I attended back then, not getting what I was paying for. I then found the quality of “education” to be better when I was being paid, getting hands-on experience during on-the-job-training.
I believe the suicide issue and causes need to be better addressed. The causes and triggers need to be treated, not just the symptoms, otherwise the causes will continue when triggered. Depression may be a symptom. But what causes or triggers the depression? A cause can be physical, such as anemia, dehydration, low blood glucose – and keep in mind glucose is brain fuel. The brain needs oxygen too, and anemia – low hemoglobin count from iron deficiency or bleeding – can reduce that and then depression is a symptom. The trigger can be an event that causes the depressed person to consider suicide. Another comparison to explain the difference between causes, triggers, and symptoms is asthma – the condition of asthma may be caused by a defect in RNA carried by DNA. A symptom of asthma may be wheezing. The wheezing may be triggered by exposure to air pollution natural like pollen or manmade like exhaust from a car. Another comparison, I take Excedrin to knock down migraine headaches, but that only treats the symptom of pain, doing nothing to stop the cause or to prevent a trigger. I’ve discovered one of the triggers is monosodium glucamates, MSGs in food, especially my favorite snack Doritos Nacho Cheese Flavored Tortilla Chips. Too many at one time will trigger a migraine headache. As for the cause, why does it happen to me and not other people? What’s the difference between us? Probably defect in RNA carried by DNA causing metabolism to malfunction. Anyway, most doctors tend to treat the symptoms, not the causes or triggers, and therefore the problem continues – and there’s more money that way from repeat customers for them, plus the health care and drugs industry. They don’t continue to get money from people who have been cured. It’s a greedy vulture culture of money first and health care last – if any at all.
Norman Police, City of Norman, and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad are already doing an excellent job to try to reduce the overall problem of pedestrians being killed by trains in accidents, as well as the suicides. So it falls to OU and others to help solve the suicide problem. With state and federal cuts gutting mental health care down to a level making it useless, it will not be easy. So my suggestion is for churches to help treat the causes and triggers of local suicides.
As for being blasted out of bed early mornings by train horns, I found out they use the horn more than required by law to try to frighten away potential suicides. That train horn can be very intimidating – could cause a few to change their minds.
The apartments complex I lived at by the tracks was torn down to make way for new housing mainly for OU. I now live on West Brooks near 24th SW. Much quieter over here, except for nearby street, highway, and bridge construction noise.
I wrote this because of another recent death by train event reported by News9, and this editorial article is a longer version of the comment I posted under the article there…
Railroad, Police Struggle To Find Solutions To Fatal Pedestrian Collisions – Posted: Sep 29, 2016 4:53 PM CDT Updated: Sep 29, 2016 4:53 PM CDT – BY JESSI MITCHELL, NEWS 9
- NORMAN, Oklahoma – Three pedestrians have been killed by trains in Norman in the past month, leaving police and the rail company to explore new solutions for safety. They say there is not much more they can do besides raise awareness.
- In Thursday’s accident, police say a man, identified as 31-year-old Michael Andrew Railly, had his phone out at a crossing and believe he was trying to photograph the train as it barreled towards him. He was simply too close, but not every fatality has been an accident.
- Since 2012, trains and pedestrians have collided nine times. Norman police say seven of those resulted in death, and seven were intended suicides.
+ + +